74th Fighter Squadron [74th FS]
(Base Code: FT)
The heritage of the 74th Fighter Squadron "Flying Tigers" traces back to the famed American Volunteer Group. The AVG, started by Brig Gen Claire Chennault, provided air defense for China in the early days of World War II. Using P-40 Warhawks, the AVG "Flying Tigers" maintained an amazing kill ratio of 8:1 over the enemy during seven months of combat operations.
When the United States entered the war in 1941, the AVG was disbanded, reconstituted, and then activated as the 23d Fighter Group on July 4th, 1942. The 74th was one of the original four squadrons in the 23d to see combat action in the Far East. The Fighter Group used P40 Warhawks, and later P-51 Mustangs, to cover a large operational area and diverse combat roles. The area of operation extended beyond China into Burma, French Indochina (Vietnam), and Formosa.
The mission taskings included counter air campaigns, strafing and bombing Japanese forces and installations, escorting bombers, flying reconnaissance missions, and intercepting Japanese bombers. The fighter group excelled in these roles and received the Distinguished Unit Citation for its exceptional performance during the war.
Following World War II, the 74th was activated at various times and locations throughout the world. From 1946-1949 the 74th flew the P-47 at Northwest Field, Guam. During the years of 1951-1954, the 74th flew the F-86 and F-94 at Presque Isle AFB, Maine. The 74th then moved to Thule AB, Greenland, from 1954-1958 and flew the F-89. During the period 1958-1972, the 74th was deactivated.
In July of 1972, the 74th rejoined its sister squadrons for the first time since 1949 when the 23d Tactical Fighter Wing was activated at England Air Force Base LA. The 74th began operations flying the A-7 Corsair II in 1972 and transitioned into the A-10 "Thunderbolt II" in the summer of 1981.
During the 1980's, the 74th lived up to its proud history by receiving the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award five different times. The most recent combat tasking for the 74th was during Operations DESERT SHIELD/STORM. From September 1990 until April 11, 1991, the 74th earned high praise for its performance during the campaign against Iraq's elusive Scud-B mobile missile launchers.
On February 15, 1992, the 74th was again inactivated at England Air Force Base as part of the Air Force's force structure realignment. It was reactivated June 15, 1993 at Pope AFB NC as part of the 23d Wing, the second composite wing built from the ground up. The 74th began operations at Pope AFB flying the F-16C/D Fighting Falcon. In July 1996, the F-16s departed Pope AFB and the 74th Fighter Squadron transitioned back to the A-10 aircraft.
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